We’ve already told you about why we love the U.S. Post Office. Because it is magic.
The U.S. Postal Service is a civic service that makes our businesses better. Helps our communities function. Lets us get thank you notes (sometimes) and sympathy cards and bills (I know, but it’s better than not getting them). Makes our democracy work. Yes, I said it. Our Postal Service is the reason our country works at all.
But a recent article by Zeynep Tufekci in the New York Times tells the story very differently. Although she also knows that the Post Office is magical place that helps our country to be as amazing and strong as it can be. You should read the entire article.
I WAS transported recently to a place that is as enchanting to me as any winter wonderland: my local post office.
In line, I thought fondly of the year I came to this country from Turkey as an adult and discovered the magic of reliable mail service. Dependable infrastructure is magical not simply because it works, but also because it allows innovation to thrive, including much of the Internet-based economy that has grown in the past decade. You can’t have Amazon or eBay without a reliable way to get things to people’s homes.
She talks about the great magic of discovering the U.S. post office, something that sounds like magic to people back home in Turkey.
I discovered some vending machines outside the office. People came and bought stamps. “So many people must be into stamp collecting,” I thought to myself. Was that another weird American quirk? Otherwise, why would people waste money buying stamps in advance, without having their letters weighed?
Something I take for granted now just didn’t occur to me: There were standardized rates, and you could just slap a stamp on your letter, drop it in a mailbox, and it would go to its destination.
Oh, and the pièce de résistance?
Yes, I was told, in the United States, mail gets picked up from your house, six days a week, free of charge.
I told my friends in Turkey about all this. They shook their heads in disbelief…
Because she knows it’s bigger than just the Post Office: U.S. infrastructure makes the U.S. possible.
Almost every aspect of the most innovative parts of the United States, from cutting-edge medical research to its technology scene, thrives on publicly funded infrastructure. The post office is struggling these days, in some ways because of how much people rely on the web to do much of what they used to turn to the post office for. But the Internet is a testament to infrastructure, too: It exists partly because the National Science Foundation funded much of the research that makes it possible. Even some of the Internet’s biggest companies, like Google, got a start from N.S.F.-funded research.
Infrastructure is often the least-appreciated part of what makes a country strong, and what makes innovation take flight. From my spot in line at the post office, I see a country that does both well; not a country that emphasizes one at the expense of the other.
Read the entire article. You might cry too. Because people laughed when we said that the Post Office is magic. Because the U.S. Postal Service is critical to our country. It is a public service that makes our American business, our communities, our society, and our civic culture function. That makes our democracy function. And it really is. Magic.